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Why DIY Musicians Can’t Copy Beyoncé

beyonce_main

Don’t get me wrong. I love me some Bey. She’s a goddess. I would send her as the world ambassador to greet the aliens. But all the hype around the no-hype album only, visual ‘experience’ needs to be understood for what it is.

Superstars Get Noticed For Being Superstars – You Don’t

We pay for magazines with photos of superstars at lunch. No one is going to buy a magazine because there is a photo of your band munching on a pastrami sandwich at Canters.

Similarly, when the biggest superstar in the world quietly releases her album only, video experience (with a monopolizing iTunes masthead feature), people care. If you were to try this, your instagramed sandwich would get more attention.

Remember When CDs Cost $18.99?

That was a low point in the music industry. The past. When people were forced to spend nearly $20 for the 1 song they liked. The reason Napster thrived wasn’t because people didn’t want to pay for music, it’s because they just wanted the one song and didn’t want to pay $20 for it. iTunes and Spotify solved this and people who still debate piracy are out of touch and haven’t found the window that opened when the proverbial door closed. This release is kind of a throwback to CD/DVD double disc releases. It’s different in 2013. It worked today. It won’t work again.

This Is The Exception, Not The Rule

Team Beyoncé thought to themselves, “how can we shake things up.” And they did it. This is not where music is moving. The only reason this stunt worked is because it came from the biggest superstar in the world. Don’t expect this to ever be repeated by anyone – let alone DIY artists. I dare you to release your next album like this with 0 promo. The general public will ignore you and your fans will spit on you for not allowing them to at least preview the damn songs (in their entirety).

Innovate Or Die

Come up with creative ways to release your album. Or singles. You are creative people, use that creativity in the business realm. Team Bey did it. Meditate on it. Smoke on it. Drink on it. Sleep on it. Just don’t sit on it. Don’t release your album the same way everyone else has and expect it to magically get discovered.

Radiohead was the first band (on such a large scale) to offer the “pay what you want” model and it worked magnificently for them. Andy Grammer went viral based on his interactive music video. Ari Hest (no relation – duh) created the 52 project and released a new song every week for a year to subscribers who signed up for $20. Just do something different.

Have you previously released your album creatively? Did it work? Please share in the comments.

True Fan Packages

Yes, “true” fans will pay more up front for expensive packages. Be it a physical package for $50 containing a vinyl, T, sticker and signed lyric sheet, or an album only, video experience download for $15.99. But DIY artists’ true fans can only get you started. You may sell a hundred or so packages initially (if you have thousands on your email list), but if you want to expand your base you need to inspire new audiences. You can’t expect someone who hears your music from a friend’s stereo to go and buy the $50 package (or the $15.99 album), but they may Like you on Facebook, follow you on Instagram and Twitter, then check you out on SoundCloud and YouTube then add you to a playlist on Spotify and then buy a ticket to your show when you tour through (from the SongKick notification ON Spotify) and then at the show buy a Tshirt and Vinyl of their (new) favorite album they’d been rocking for months. Bam $50 on a NEW fan. Didn’t come on day 1, but now you have a lifelong fan.

Build It Slow and Steady

On top of everything, don’t expect your next release to go viral on day 1. Create a fantastic release strategy to get it started, but keep cranking away at it. Remember it took Mumford and Sons nearly a year to reach US radio once their first album was released. Engage with your current fans and continue to release content regularly: instagrams, tweets, videos, cover songs, acoustic versions, demos, blogs, vlogs, vines, on and on until you’re next full album release (which can be hailed as your historic piece of art amongst all of the regular filler content).

If you respect your fans and continue to shower them with engaging content, they will gladly pay you when the time is right. It’s not all about download sales in week 1. There are so many more ways to make money with your music career. The music industry is GROWING. It’s a beautiful time.

Ari Herstand is a Los Angeles based DIY musician and the creator of Ari’s Take. Follow him on Twitter: @aristake

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Comments (67)
  1. Anonymous

    Hm, let’s see, Ari:

    Your streaming strategy has helped you sell 10,000 downloads in your life.

    Beyoncé’s non-streaming strategy helped her break the U.S. iTunes record for most albums sold in a week. Just like Taylor Swift’s non-streaming strategy helped her break the exact same record last year!

    Now, which stragegy do you think artists will try to imitate in the future? :)


    Reply
    1. PiratesWinLOL

      The question is how many downloads have Yves non-streaming strategy helped him sell?


      Reply
      1. Anonymous

        Hehe, I can’t forget what you said about Beyoncé’s album the other day.

        Here it is again for those who might have missed it the first time:

        “it is just some silly arty-farty project, which very few will care about”

        I mean, it’s up there with:

        “I think there is a world market for maybe five computers.” — Thomas Watson, chairman of IBM, 1943.

        “This ‘telephone’ has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication. The device is inherently of no value to us.” — Western Union internal memo, 1876.

        “While theoretically and technically television may be feasible, commercially and financially it is an impossibility.” — Lee DeForest, inventor.

        “Who the hell wants to hear actors talk?” — H. M. Warner, Warner Brothers, 1927.

        “The wireless music box has no imaginable commercial value. Who would pay for a message sent to nobody in particular?” — David Sarnoff’s associates in response to his urgings for investment in the radio in the 1920s.

        Perhaps you finally did create something, pirate… :)


        Reply
  2. Crad Flo

    Love the creativity. Some retail stores are upset well mainly Target. It’s her album she did what’s best and it worked. Congrats! Keep the articles coming Ari, I’m learning a lot.


    Reply
  3. hippydog

    Quote “Why DIY Musicians Can’t Copy Beyoncé”..

    you say that.. and then in your article you basically say, they should.. (be different that is)..

    The real reason why DIY musicians cant copy a zero promoted release is because
    THEY DONT HAVE A MILLION FANS..
    thats it..
    the rest is completely up to debate..

    Quote “This release is kind of a throwback to CD/DVD double disc releases. It’s different in 2013.”
    Sure.. just like it.. except for all the differences..
    As comparisons go, a case could be made its also like an ALBUM that came out in the 70′s..
    what did the 70′s have in common with the 21′ century? Singles..
    I love how just a few weeks ago everyone was saying how the ‘Album’ was dead, this is 2013..
    and then someone releases an Album that kills.. guess it aint so dead..

    Quote “The general public will ignore you and your fans will spit on you for not allowing them to at least preview the damn songs (in their entirety).”
    I completely disagree..
    Again, I do agree that the chances of being #1 and starting with a small fanbase is nigh impossible..

    as to the rest? based on what?.. If anything history says the complete opposite, its usually the 1% ‘True Fans’ that can shift the other 99%.. There is usually a ‘critical mass’ involved, but it does happen..

    Quote “On top of everything, don’t expect your next release to go viral on day 1.”
    of course..
    but I do believe artists could repeat everything else she did, and have it work.. Would it go viral? probably not.. but going viral DOES NOT denote the only success possible..

    The idea of releasing a VIDEO DIGITAL ALBUM, to TRUE FANS FIRST, and ASKING THEM TO PAY FOR IT.. is a good idea, and most likely will be repeated successfully..

    in my opinion :-)


    Reply
    1. Anonymous

      “I do believe artists could repeat everything else she did, and have it work”

      Indeed, her strategy is very simple, and the most important part is this:

      Don’t stream your music the first week!

      That’s why she broke the records this week, that’s why Taylor Swift broke the records last year, and that’s why someone else will break the records next year…


      Reply
      1. DUDE

        That’s a gross oversimplification and you know it dude, there’s much much more at play here than windowing from streaming services

        Its like hippydog said, there are aspects of this that everyone can and should copy — its innovative and its tailored really well to Beyonce’s strengths as an artist, performer, and business/brand/whatever the buzzword is these days — but these are more general principles than specific moves & I think the point the original article is making is that most bands wont be able to use this exact release plan as a one size fits all template

        People are not gonna shell out $


        Reply
        1. Anonymous

          “People are not gonna shell out $”

          That’s what pro-streamers and pro-pirates screamed at us for years, and guess what? Beyoncé proved them all wrong.

          Great music is as valuable as ever. Just don’t give it away.


          Reply
          1. DUDE

            ‘Great’ is kind of a stretch for this one in my opinion but that aside, you are willfully ignoring the point Im trying to make here which is that different situations require different approaches.

            I think its important to remember that Beyonce’s got a history of successful, stylistically consistent releases behind her. People know more or less what they’re gonna get from a Beyonce album and if thats something they’ve enjoyed in the past, they don’t risk wasting their cash on something they won’t end up wanting when they’re throwing down 15 dollars on her new album.

            If you’re a new band putting out your first album, that is obviously not gonna apply to you and most people are gonna be a little more skeptical about spending money on your recordings. In that situation, you might be better served letting people stream in the hopes that more of them will give your music a chance and you’ll be able to grow your fanbase for the next album cycle, get more people out to your shows, get some respect buys, etc etc.

            $15 albums arent gonna make you shit if they sit on the shelf and don’t sell, and people might not be so willing to spend that on a band they aren’t sure they’re gonna like. I know I wouldn’t be, and Im pretty sure Im not the only one.


            Reply
            1. Anonymous

              “you are willfully ignoring the point Im trying to make”

              Sorry, but you didn’t make any. Here’s what you said:

              I think the point the original article is making is that most bands wont be able to use this exact release plan as a one size fits all template

              Nobody suggested anything of the kind.

              What’ is important to many of us these days is to extract the basic elements from her strategy and see if any of them apply to releases in general. And at least two elements do stand out in that respect:

              1) Don’t give your music away the first week!
              2) Be visual!

              Both are simple, both are sound, and both can easily be reproduced and applied to any release I can think of.

              Now, don’t you think it makes more sense to learn from the master than from a guy who hasn’t made it yet?


              Reply
              1. DUDE

                1) Don’t give your music away the first week!

                Something that worked very well FOR BEYONCE, because she’s a known quantity. No one needs to familiarize themselves with what her music is about and consequently you either know you’re gonna want to hear it bad enough to pay, or you know you don’t. Its probably not a great idea for a band trying to grow their fanbase aggressively to charge new fans 15 bucks to scope their album out — they’d be better off setting their price point as low as they possibly can to encourage as many fence-sitters as they possibly can to give their music a chance, and cashing in with shows, merch, a followup album, etc if & when they convert people.

                2) Be visual!

                Again something that worked very well FOR BEYONCE, because she’s always been good with the visual elements. Her videos have been HUGE for her and they’re a big part of her appeal to her fans. But, if you’re for example a dance producer primarily looking to reach DJs and clubgoers with your beats, visuals would probably not be the best thing for you to shine the spotlight on cause your audience isn’t giving a fuck about that — they wanna know it’ll go off in a nightclub and a flashy video is not gonna show them that, itll just be a waste of your time and money.

                “Both are simple, both are sound, and both can easily be reproduced and applied to any release I can think of.”

                Obviously, but my point is that you’re better off doing something tailored to YOUR strengths and tooled towards accomplishing YOUR goals, instead of biting elements of someone else’s plan because they worked really well FOR THEM. Music isnt a commodity, and its foolish to assume the exact same things that worked really well for Beyonce are gonna work just as well for you when you’re probably selling a very different product.

                “Now, don’t you think it makes more sense to learn from the master than from a guy who hasn’t made it yet?”

                Definitely, just make sure its the right lessons you’re learning is all


                Reply
      2. DUDE

        That’s a gross oversimplification and you know it dude, there’s much much more at play here than windowing from streaming services

        Its like hippydog said, there are aspects of this that everyone can and should copy — its innovative and its tailored really well to Beyonce’s strengths as an artist, performer, and business/brand/whatever the buzzword is these days — but these are more general principles than specific moves & I think the point the original article is making is that most bands wont be able to use this exact release plan as a one size fits all template for their album releases

        For example, bands without well-established fanbases or bands that are looking to grow their fanbases more than cash in immediately might be better served by not windowing from streaming — streaming might pay out way less on a per-unit basis than CDs or downloads, but you won’t make anything off CDs and downloads if no one is buying them


        Reply
        1. DUDE

          My b on the duplicate, hit send before I finished typing


          Reply
    2. Lisa

      Heya hippydog, as to your opinion:

      “The idea of releasing a VIDEO DIGITAL ALBUM, to TRUE FANS FIRST, and ASKING THEM TO PAY FOR IT.. is a good idea, and most likely will be repeated successfully..”

      I heartily agree. If you work it right, have a plan in place and you know your audience well enough, you could totally hit that :D


      Reply
  4. ben

    “Come up with creative ways to release your album. Team Bey did it. Don’t release your album the same way everyone else has.”

    What a crappy suggestion!!!


    Reply
  5. Joshua Hall

    I have always believed that people will pay for something if they want it. Raise your hand if your reading this and bought the Beyonce CD?? I price my CD’s at $15 – I know the audience can buy the music cheaper on iTunes or listen for pennies on Spotify, but if the audience wants the CD – they will buy it. You can promote to potential people all day long – Listen to my stuff!!!!! – but at the end of the day, it is the personal connections that I make with other people that will inspire them to support my efforts, not my Ads. Beyonce has been a public figure for a couple decades, she has a very large fan base and her music appeals to Teenagers and Tweens. She may have done “Zero”promo for the album but anytime she graced the cover of a magazine or performed at a large sporting or political event – she Promoted herself – she kept herself in the mainstream conscience. It’s the same as the little Ari’s Take newsletters – you keep yourself in your “fans” conscience. You keep quiet too long and people will forget about you and move on……Its a careful dance – because if it is done right, no one is aware you’re even doing it – PROMOTING YOURSELF -and by proxy -YOUR TOUR, NEW ALBUM, VIDEO……..

    My music doesn’t appeal to teenagers, it doesn’t work in bars or dance clubs, it’s not likely to ever be played on any stations outside of internet radio – so there is a sweet spot in demographic and in price – where something is “Too Cheap” and “Too Expensive” – and what is the “Value Added” component???? Why should I spend money on YOU??? Why are YOU SPECIAL??? Well in the end, its not about you, its about your relationship to the other person and how you connect with them.

    I just polled a room full of 8th grade girls (52 girls chorus students – I teach Music in a Public School) – and ZERO of them have bought the new Beyonce Album and by the looks of it, none of them were going too…..

    Thank YOU Ari for this Blog.


    Reply
    1. Lisa

      Hey Joshua, I totally get that. I’m learning things from Ariel Hyatt re: making a genuine connection with your audience and it sounds like you’ve done a lot of research as to what YOUR particular target market is (I’m currently doing that now). And you’ve got a point about promo – EVERYTHING you do in the public arena is promo. People develop their perceptions about you based on what they see and think they know about you.

      I also agree with this: “I have always believed that people will pay for something if they want it” because it’s true e.g. how many times have we gone to the supermarket and come back with crap that wasn’t on the list? lol. If we can convince people they want to buy something, they will. People and companies do it to me all the time :)


      Reply
  6. FarePlay

    Man, I already don’t like this guy. People who spend their / our time talking about what can’t be done, coupled with a polarized view of reality, really contributed nothing to the conversation.

    Why they loudly insist “there is only one way to get there” are simply narrowing our world of possibility. People who believe in things that can’t be done, will inhabit that world.

    Pay attention Ari, you may learn something here. You’re not “innovating” your “ADAPTING”, there’s a huge difference.

    BTW, no one is advocating the return to the $20. CD.


    Reply
    1. GGG

      Innovation and adaption do not have to be mutually exclusive. Adapting to a culture that has been getting more and more exclusively digital (with the fantastic exception of vinyl sales) and innovating ways to take advantage of that can go hand in hand.


      Reply
      1. Lisa

        I agree GGG. Innovation is usually inspired in response to a particular circumstance and once the innovation happens, wouldn’t it make sense that you would then have to adapt to it?


        Reply
    2. Anonymous

      “I already don’t like this guy”

      I wouldn’t go so far.

      His problem is that he’s living in the past, and who can really blame him for that. Times change so fast; many honestly believed in Spotify until Taylor Swift’s Red — mostly because of the labels and the tech industry and their long fairy tale. So now it takes time to adjust.

      Fortunately, a lot of successful acts make the process easier for us: Beyonce, Swift and many others have proved without a doubt that streaming was useless to artists:

      Neither the promises, nor the threats were true — Spotify did not suddenly begin to grow miraculously, it did not suddenly start to make money, it did not begin to pay artists. And millions of consumers did not steal what they couldn’t stream for free.

      All in all: The entire raison d’ëtre for streaming fell apart.

      And now it’s time to move on.


      Reply
      1. GGG

        If streaming is useless why are Adele and Taylor Swift and Coldplay’s last now on? Why not just keep on entirely?

        I think windowing at that level is absolutely a great way to take advantage of some fence-sitters, but they obviously see value in streaming after a certain period of time.

        You cannot lump “artists” in one giant group. Superstars have the numbers that even if 99% of their fans pirate or stream their shit, they can still sell a million albums and make $10M. Most bands don’t have those numbers. Most bands are also still fighting to get to the next level. Where the sweet spot is, I have yet to pin down, but there’s a point where monetizing discovery (via streaming, not Tune Hunter’s mad ramblings) will benefit non-superstar artists. Right now, streaming is the way to do that, across many platforms.


        Reply
        1. Anonymous

          You’re annoying but not stupid, and I don’t think you believe in the long tail for a second.

          What happens after release week is not crucial and can be discussed. I’m sure we’re going to hear many new theories and see lots of variations, including a few complete holdouts. I’m still debating what’s the right strategy, or if there is one. And how will YouTube’s new paid service affect it all.

          Oh, and don’t even mention ‘monetizing discovery’ — my mind goes blank and I have to find a cup of coffee.


          Reply
          1. GGG

            lol, well it was either “monetizing discovery” or “exposure” and both are shit terms, so we need a new one.

            As for post-first week not being crucial, NOW who’s living in the past? What percentage of sales was Adele’s first week? Mumfords? Macklemores? Small. Beyonce will probably tank after a couple more days. Not as fast as a lot of people since the release is something different, but it will still tank. I’d rather sell 10M records over a year than 5M in a first week so I can claim some stupid ‘record.’ Who gives a shit?


            Reply
            1. Anonymous

              Well, I didn’t invent First Week, and its importance isn’t going anywhere. On the contrary.

              But OK, I agree that it means different things to different people.

              Mrs. Carter, for instance, cleverly expanded her first week by postponing physical sales. And all sorts of things can indeed trigger new interest in a song or an album at any time. Just ask Beethoven. So there you go.

              But to me, it’s wedding, party and honeymoon in one. It’s where the media is, it’s where the attention is, it’s where the money is.

              And next week is always somebody else’s first week.


              Reply
        2. FarePlay

          Everybody is so convinced that their music has to be available everywhere or they miss out on an opportunity, which has definitely worked in favor of ALL these streaming services. Until artists figure this out, they are will continue to be grist for the mill and be lining the pockets of someone else for their work and creativity.

          However you want to frame it, or more likely limit it, Beyonce just blew that up. I don’t have the answer for “everyone” but streaming is not the answer for every artist, that much I do know. Some will be better off selling directly to their fans and having their own streaming services on their websites.

          GGG are you old enough to remember video stores? Ever wonder why 90% of their rentals were new releases? I’ll tell you why. Because most people would go into the catalogue section and be overwhelmed with the choices and be unable to choose anything. As Dave Matthews says: “Too many choices”.


          Reply
          1. GGG

            “I don’t have the answer for “everyone” but streaming is not the answer for every artist, that much I do know. Some will be better off selling directly to their fans and having their own streaming services on their websites.”

            Of course, nothing is the answer for every artist anymore. You have to learn what your fans/potential fans want, and windowing can help for sure, but starting at what level? And this might mean focusing on niche-ier groups, another reason why using Beyonce as an example of “breaking the mold” is silly. Yes, she broke the mold of what a superstar artist can do. So it proves that that specific mold can be broken, sort of (she still sold shit compared to her fan base, something I say over and over yet everyone seems to conveniently ignore).

            Also, what good does setting up streaming on your own site do? Hate Spotify all you want, but might as well get SOMETHING out of streaming or the other option is doing it elsewhere for nothing.

            As for video stores, I’m not really sure what point this is trying to prove. Yes I’m old enough, and as for why they had so many new movies…because that’s what people wanted for the most part? And yes, I agree catalogue stuff was hard to sift through, before something like internet made finding aggregate ratings easy. They don’t have a ‘most watched’ sorting as far as I know, but if you look at the highest rated films in any category on Netflix, there are plenty of older films, varying depending on genre. I’m sure they correlate fairy closely between rated/watched with I’m sure a few outliers.


            Reply
            1. FarePlay

              Like somebody is going to find you on Spotify? Get real.


              Reply
              1. FarePlay

                GGG. There you go again, clouding and polarizing the conversation. I don’t hate Spotify, they’re a company. I’m simply pro-artist. Spotify has the ability to innovate and adapt to artists at anytime they choose.


                Reply
              2. GGG

                No, they’ll find you somewhere, anywhere, however person x usually finds stuff, and 999/1000 times not going to want to just buy your record sounds unheard. And this is where you start seeing the differences come into play.

                Person X who bought Mumfords records or single(s), or heard a few songs and liked them, sees they have a new album out and thinks “Oh, I like them, I’ll buy it!” They also read about some new band that fans of Mumford would like. What percentage of people actually act and buy based on those recs? Almost nobody. But band/brand recognition is the type of “discovery” that streaming can hurt. Although, at this point, streaming is still way too small that, despite your continued assertion that every streamer is a lost sale and all 40M Spotify users apparently used to buy 100 records a year, we still don’t actually know exactly who is streaming. Pirates who were gonna steal anyway? Curious based on a review or rec? Morbidly curious like the time I streamed a couple godawful Austin Mahone tracks? Fans who wouldn’t have bought the album anyway (which is still large chunks of fan bases)? Etc etc.


                Reply
                1. FarePlay

                  Don’t stretch what I say to make a point, it is tiresome and misleading. More black & white posturing. No I do not believe that every stream is a lost sale, nor do I believe that people who pirate music never buy music, I do believe BOTH seriously hurt sales.


                  Reply
  7. Noah Copeland

    I once released an album without any promo. It didn’t do too well…..


    Reply
    1. Anonymous

      There are so many ways you can promote your content without giving it away for free on Spotify.

      The most important one is to copy what Beyoncé did: Release YouTube previews of your songs.

      When you do that, you
      1) reach the biggest audience on the planet,
      2) make as much money per stream as you would from a complete song,
      3) don’t cannibalize sales.

      Here’s what a sad fan said on Beyoncé’s YouTube channel — print it out and hang it on your wall:

      “I don’t want previews! They just make me want what I don’t have.”


      Reply
      1. Me

        Lol. You can release all the YouTube previews you want, but you’re not going to reach the same amount of people as Beyonce.


        Reply
      2. smg77

        Youtube previews? lol


        Reply
        1. Anonymous

          Beyoncé’s YT previews got 30M views during the first 3 days — without any cannibalizing.

          Care to explain why that makes you laugh?


          Reply
          1. GGG

            Did those previews lead to sales, or were they just people trying to listen for free? Funny how you know what every person in the world is thinking when they pirate/stream/buy/etc. You a wizard or something?


            Reply
      3. Lisa

        I like the idea of the previews for promo or exposure purposes, can’t hurt to try. If it doesn’t work, oh well – onto the next idea :)


        Reply
  8. austinjonesband

    I’m thinking of releasing a cassette only album. Thoughts?


    Reply
    1. Me

      That’s not innovative enough. Lots of people are releasing cassette albums. Try releasing an 8-track only album.


      Reply
    2. Lisa

      If you have your niche market sussed and know you already have an audience for it then why not?
      I’m guessing you’ve done some research on marketing (I’m currently doing a music marketing course run by John Oszajca and man there’s heaps to learn!), so you’ve come up with a plan?


      Reply
  9. FarePlay

    If it’s good, it will be copied and digitized in 24 hours and be available as an “unauthorized” download.


    Reply
  10. Michele Thomas

    Awesome insight as usual Ari! Thanks for giving some real perspective on this story, unlike many of the other writers foaming at the mouth over the promotion of this album! Bey did what she had to do in order to continue strengthening her fanbase and stay in the business – which is what we’re all doing in many respects. She’s just a great example of how we should all be in sync with who are fanbase is, and what will make them excited about our music and our brand.


    Reply
  11. Lisa

    Great article Ari – you’ve stirred up some feelings but you like inspiring discussion so yay :) And I LOVE this line: “She’s a goddess. I would send her as the world ambassador to greet the aliens”. Had a chuckle then thought, “hells yeah she’d be the perfect representative to hype up the human race” ;)

    Anyway, this is my 2 cents: DIYers, DON’T release without any promo. Bey can do it coz she runs the world. But at it’s core, Bey’s team did what we SHOULD all do – come up with an innovative strategy utilizing everything YOU bring to the table (audience pull, followers, music, gimmicks etc etc). One size doesn’t fit all and everyone has something no one else has. Find your niche, work that biarch and be the master of YOUR world. There will always be reasons why something doesn’t or won’t work and there are tonnes of experts, surveys and studies galore telling us why things are stuffed up. You can either use them as excuses to keep crying a river or use those statistics to be your catalyst and light a fire under your butt to go be the exception. Like Ari has. And a whole lot of other creatives. I’m working on that now – it took awhile but I got over myself.

    Here’s to the fire :)


    Reply
    1. Ari Herstand

      Right on Lisa! :)


      Reply
      1. FarePlay

        Ari, nice that you chime in on Lisa’s comments, but there are far more challenging questions to be answered. I haven’t revisited my post. But It would be valuable to know if you are a solo artist or part of a band and if you handle all your booking, marketing and management activities.

        I comment often on this blog and value diversity in most aspects of succeeding as an artist. Clearly, this is not a one size fits all business and I, like you, are pro-artist more interested in the success of the individual than the corporations.


        Reply
        1. Blue Steel

          I think it’s interesting which comments Ari chooses to reply to. It’s becoming quite apparent that he doesn’t like to be disagreed with. His twitter account stated that digital music news fans are “bitter.” and all comments that were,
          “on the contrary,” were met with disagreement and sarcasm. Any type of public forum is going to generate disagreement. The best thing to do is have a constructive conversation regardless if the opinion is in opposition. Not impressed so far…


          Reply
          1. Ari Herstand

            Hey guys, I definitely value a healthy debate! I only check back on the comments occasionally and don’t have time to read or respond to every one. I’m sorry if it’s like I’m picking and choosing.

            FarePlay I urge you to check out http://aristake.com for more of my writing. And http://ariherstand.com for my music, news, bio, etc. You can Google/Wiki me. Everything I have online is under my name. I’m a DIY artist who started writing Ari’s Take for the sole purpose of helping other DIY artists. We may disagree about the best ways artists should and can get paid, but we’re all on the same team here.

            PS the “bitter” comment was aimed towards all the personal attacks coming my way and all of the presumptions about my income, my financial situation, my car and my living situation – all of which are untrue. I wasn’t prepared for that. Can’t we have a healthy debate about the topics without aiming attacks towards me personally? Well, I guess since I put my name on it and discuss my personal experiences that’s what I’m going to get! :)


            Reply
            1. FarePlay

              Your funny,

              “I only check back on the comments occasionally and don’t have time to read or respond to every one”

              And then to answer my questions you refer me to: “check out http://aristake.com for more of my writing. And http://ariherstand.com for my music, news, bio, etc. You can Google/Wiki me. Everything I have online is under my name. I’m a DIY artist who started writing Ari’s Take for the sole purpose of helping other DIY artists.”

              Because you know Ari, everything I do is in support of artists. you can Google me at FarePlay. etc., etc.

              Oh well, if you last and I hope you do, we’ll get to know one another.


              Reply
        2. Lisa

          Heya Fareplay – throughout this piece you and alot of the other responders have absolutely brought up some valuable points to think about and process. I’m always skimming through the opinions of my peers on forums (music and business based) to help my limited but open mind gain a broader perspective.

          I’m a newbie to the whole, marketing music gig. I come from a background of playing bass/singing covers and being a session muso for other bands and in no way can I profess to be an expert or even successful yet. But being a single parent trying to make a living in this music world has taught me to filter what I don’t need (other people’s emotional baggage) to find the pearls hidden within the diatribe. Luckily I’m no longer obsessive about being right or proving someone wrong, or I’d be screwed :)

          I will admit to being biassed for Ari. His blog is one of my go-to places for advice and information. Because it makes sense to me. And I like his informal writing style. And he makes things simple and interesting. Much like what you’ll find if you read people like:

          Ariel Hyatt: http://cyberprmusic.com/category/blog/
          Or Derek Sivers: http://sivers.org/blog
          Or Seth Godin: http://sethgodin.typepad.com/
          (Just a couple off the top of my head).

          But anyway – sorry for the novel, didn’t mean to go on and on, I do that sometimes :P
          It sounds like you’ve got a real passion for music – are you a musician yourself? Where can we go to check out your stuff? <3


          Reply
  12. cjhoffmn

    I think this article would have been far more interesting if it had been article about how to adapt what she did for DIY’ers rather than espouse a sensational view point of what DIY’ers can’t do. True – DIY’ers don’t have her budget / fan base / expertise / access to industry etc. Hell – most label acts don’t have what she has. 8 years ago, you didn’t have access to any of the stuff you have access to now today; you couldn’t have sold on iTunes and yet here you are. Let’s talk about adaptation and innovation!

    I just looked this over briefly: https://www.youtube.com/user/ariherstand/videos and it seemed to me that you’ve done more works of the big stars than of your own. Most of your music videos out there are derivative works and covers of hits, I think you’d have a lot of very insightful comments about how to adapt what they do. You don’t sing like Adele or play like Lordes and you copied them quite artfully. Why not write about that?

    PS – I noticed you did a rendition of Carol of the Bells, which is notable, because I thought it was extremely difficult to secure a sync and derivative license for that track. I think you should write an article about how DIY’ers can get derivative and sync licenses worked out. I’d bet a lot of people would find that helpful. Doing covers and derivatives can be a great way to gain exposure, especially if you can manage the licensing costs well.

    PPS – I noticed you have a ton more promo videos on your channel than anything else. Maybe an article about your tips / tricks / expertise built up around that – you’re really good at it!


    Reply
    1. Ari Herstand

      Hey bud, great idea! I’ll try to put some YouTube tips together. I started getting into the cover game within this past year as many of my “YouTuber” friends have had quite a bit of success with it. And it’s fun to collaborate with other artists! Covers are easy and quick and yes, bring more subscribers to my channel. Live, I typically only play 1 cover a set – if at all.

      Regarding the licenses – all of the covers that I sell I’ve secured the compulsory mechanical licenses for. No one – not even the top YouTubers who get millions of plays and hundreds of thousands of subscribers secure sync licenses for cover songs. The publishers have agreed to just let this slide on YouTube as it’s much more promo for them and drives sales (and mechanical royalties) to their catalog. I honestly applied for a sync license years ago when I released my DVD which had 1 cover on it, but never heard back from the publisher (still haven’t heard from them – 4 years later)


      Reply
      1. cjhoffmn

        I’d love to hear more of those tips – let’s help DIY grow, not tell it that it can’t!

        On the licenses, your answer confuses me a little… The compulsory mechanical license would cover you if it was a cover, but I’d wager your loop performances are derivative works, not covers. Clearly a judgement call – I understand.
        On the sync issue though, maybe I don’t understand this correctly: http://www.nmpa.org/media/showrelease.asp?id=201
        http://www.americansongwriter.com/2011/08/report-what-youtubes-copyright-settlement-means-for-musicians/
        http://www.youtubelicenseoffer.com/
        http://www.sonicscoop.com/2011/11/19/independent-music-publishers-can-opt-into-key-youtube-license-agreement-via-nmpa-hfa/
        Don’t they basically say that publishers had reached a deal – to be able to – collect sync royalties, ironing out an objection that the publishers had with Youtube since the filed suit in 2007? That would mean that even covers would still owe royalties on sync, right?
        Then this lawsuit just was filed about this topic: http://gigaom.com/2013/08/06/nmpa-vs-fullscreen/ just in August on the same topic, but for a channel?

        I’ve been asked by some people about posting videos and wasn’t aware of the publisher’s agreement to let it slide that you are referencing and I can’t find it right now by regular google searching. Can you share a link so I can go read up? I’ve got some videos in need of licenses and we’re still waiting to hear back for months now… If we don’t need to wait for permission – that would be a welcome relief.

        -cjh


        Reply
        1. Ari Herstand

          Thanks for the links! Nice investigative work. So from reading all of those, I was slightly mistaken. They are not “letting it slide” but have actually struck agreements with YouTube that grants permission for YouTube users to upload cover songs. The way the publishers will get paid is by the ads that YouTube places on those cover songs.

          The lawsuit against Fullscreen is (from my understanding) because Fullscreen is profiting from the cover videos and not paying the publishers (and YouTube cannot put ads for the publishers onto Fullscreen videos).

          Publishers are able to get YouTube to put ads on every video containing their copyright (except, I guess, those that fall in Fullscreen or Makers channels – this is changing because of the lawsuit). That’s how publishers now get paid from cover songs (from the 2011 settlement). The Publishers have direct deals with YouTube or have opted in via Harry Fox.

          Similarly, this is how INDMusic and Tunecore are collecting cover song royalties for songwriters signed up to Tunecore’s publishing admin service.


          Reply
        2. Lisa

          Heya cjhoffmn – I like that you do your due diligence and it makes me interested to see what else you have. Do you have a website where we can check out your stuff?


          Reply
          1. cjhoffmn

            Hi Lisa, sure, check out my LinkedIn Profile: http://www.linkedin.com/in/craigjhoffman/. I’m a life long musician and I literally grew up in the industry (and nearly completed a double major in music theory and business), but for my career, I went a different path – banker, branding, operator. Although I’ve never worked directly in the industry, I’ve been extremely close to it, almost invested in it, and have lots of friends who are professionals in the space working as producers / engineers / writers / performers / studio owners. (I did organize a mixing seminar being put on by a 2 time grammy winning mix engineer in January – which if I’m allowed, I’ll throw in a shameless plug later ). I’m extremely interested in getting more involved with the future of music though, and in spite of the crazy level of risk that’s in the space right now, I’m hopeful there are some new models to come out of this.

            I’m a closet composer/producer that knows its not worth it to market my stuff yet – It’s not good enough and I don’t have the time to go make it sound professional. I’ve composed 5 classical pieces (2 inventions, one sonata, 2 undefined ideas), about a dozen pop songs, about 3 dozen dance/electronic pieces, but aside from making my friends and family go “…interesting…” and then wonder why I stay up late at night… they aren’t anything to write about. (Yet!) I would love to find a way to make music creation a way to live for me, but haven’t figured it out yet. That’s why I participate in sites like this.

            The future is out there, and although music is financially devalued right now, I think people are in a “down cycle” and that they will come back to it at some point and some financial value will be restored. I’d like to be part of the swing back to the positive. Technology has fundamentally changed the industry, but I don’t think the sustainable version of the future of the industry has been defined yet. I think I can help find it though ;)

            -cjh


            Reply
            1. cjhoffmn

              Oh yeah, I should point out that in College, I worked actively as a DJ, played keys in a band, was a sound engineer for a metal band, and was an active gigging piano player. I know the life from a first hand experience too :)


              Reply
            2. Lisa

              woh, that’s awesome! I checked out your LinkedIn profile but I can’t connect to you without knowing your email address but will keep an eye out for other stuff as I like the way you approach this musical ‘down turn’ :)


              Reply
    2. Lisa

      Awesome ideas cjhoffmn – It’s always awesome to see the ‘can dos’ and more perspectives on how other people have succeeded. It’s the reason I follow Ari’s actual blog – he tends to go into more detail there :)


      Reply
      1. cjhoffmn

        Thx Lisa. There’s plenty of stuff to focus on in this mess – I like to keep an eye on what could be next…


        Reply
  13. stephen Aristei

    I agree….You are preaching to the choir ! With one cavieot…Napster became an overnight sensation, not just because people wanted “…to get one song and didn’t want to pay $20.00 for it…”, but also the point that the overall price of music was too high, and whenever something that a market wants is perceived to be “too high”, the secondary business of “stealing it”, and making it available for less is born ! Everyone who were avid music consumers will recall that when albums past the price point of $8.98, the purchase switched from a category of “non discretionary” to “discretionary”….and that made people pause, to make a choice…No longer could you by two to four albums at a time, instead, you would become more selective as to that $12.98 – 14.98 purchase….And everyone in marketing/sales knows that when you force people to make these kinds of choices, they usually don’t make any…..Stand on the “sidelines” and maybe buy one, where as in the past they purchased three ! ! This made the “big guns” even bigger and the new emerging artists, were left, “emerging even longer”…often ending up “still born” !


    Reply
    1. FarePlay

      Dude, how can you beat free? Unless you’re trying to make a living. Don’t encourage me to use the S word.

      Jeezzzzzzzz.


      Reply
  14. Jeremy Larochelle

    I agree thoroughly, while this promotion is great, it is only good for the top 1%, and definitely not useful for Indie artists. http://www.jeremylarochelle.com


    Reply
  15. Hm

    If everybody has to be special then no-one will be special. How can one then be special?


    Reply
  16. Versus

    ” When people were forced to spend nearly $20 for the 1 song they liked. The reason Napster thrived wasn’t because people didn’t want to pay for music, it’s because they just wanted the one song and didn’t want to pay $20 for it. ”

    No one was ever “forced” to spend $20 on a CD. The producer of a a consumer good has the right to set the price as he or she sees fit (at least for luxury goods like music; price controls for necessities are debatably justified). The wanna-be consumer has the right to decide whether to purchase the good at the asking price, or not purchase it a all. Wanna-be consumer explicitly does not have the right to steal it.


    Reply
  17. The Truth

    No one can do this unless they do what she did.. Cut a deal with ITunes to buy her own music first.called it promo and investing in herself,lied to the sheep to build some hype and the sheep believed the hype and bought the physical copies..its not rocket science..LOL not mad at her, she keeps finding ways to sucker the world..Yes she is a queen..the Queen of cons..


    Reply

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